Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Archives by the Kilometre

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Archives by the Kilometre

Article excerpt

Archives by the kilometre

THE importance of the world's archival institutions, from large National Archives to local record offices, may be gauged from the number of people who use them or by the volume of their holdings, usually measured in metres of shelving--although such quantitative yardsticks provide only a limited indication of the value of their contents for research.

One of the world's oldest archival institutions is the General Archives in Simancas (Spain), with 9,500 metres of records some dating as far back as 834.

The largest archival institution outside Europe is the National Archives in Washington, D.C., which today has 470 kilometres of shelving. The Public Archives of Canada preserve 38 km of conventional archives, and 350 km of semicurrent records administered in federal records centres throughout the country.

Europe's biggest archives are the Archives Nationales in France (350 km not including 36 km at the Archives d'Outre-Mer, 27 km at the Foreign Affairs archives and 65 km at the Armed Forces archives) and the Public Record Office in London, which holds 379 km (the India Office records occupy 11 km of shelving whereas the National Archives of India preserve 25 km). …

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